Pico del Rayo: hometown hiking (Calatayud)

I’m inspired to share this hike on the eve of Friday, because it’s a stay-at-home weekend.

My adventure schedule mostly depends on my favorite hiking buddy’s job. He works for the high speed railway as a Fiber Optic Technician and is on call every. other. week. Which means he can’t stray more than an hour’s drive away from the pueblo. The Pyrenees are a 2-3 hour drive from my house, so we tend to stick to chill hikes around town on weekends like this one, but only the areas with cell service. Have you ever spent extended periods in rural Spain? Ahhh the constant battle with cell towers.

Luckily we are blessed with some super gorgeous landscapes and hiking trails around home. And it’s nice to just stroll dexterously through nature sometimes.

Pico del Rayo (1427 m) is specifically part of the “Sierra del Vicort” which on a grander scale is part of the Iberian System range that extends from La Rioja, through Aragón and ends up in Valencia, almost to the coast. It’s composed of some rugged massifs and mountains, some bigger than others, but it’s mostly just a very low-key range of hills popping up around the lush green of La Rioja and high-desert landscape of Aragón and southern Navarra.

The sister peak to Pico del Rayo is home to an old American Air Force Base. It’s a looming dark sphere that I can see from the balcony of my living room. That’s fucking weird. What American would come here? LOL. JK. #pueblolife4eva

There are a couple ways up Pico del Rayo, and neither disappoint. My favorite starts out of a cute little village called Inogés, which sits about halfway up the mountain face. From there it can be a circular route and is accessible year round. Waterproof boots are definitely recommended in winter because the snow doesn’t completely melt up there during the cold months (January to March).

From Inogés you’ll head up a path which resembles a service road (because it is) straight up the mountain. Follow this for about..30 min? Eventually you’ll need to hook a sharp left which will lead you up to another main road where you’ll see a small hut. Probably where service workers keep their tools and shit. Turn left. Keep going until you see the turn-off to your right, it’s hard to miss.

sierra del vicort calatayud pico del rayo
My friend Oscar, after the last turn-off. On clear days you can see the massif of Moncayo (the tallest point in the Iberian System – 2314m) and on even clearer days you can see all the way to the Pyrenees, 240 km in the distance!
The turn off is marked by a wooden sign post. At least it was the last time I went up. And then you just keep going until this is your view:


Time to play “eye-spy”.. find the old Air Force base I mentioned earlier!

This hike is casual.. but it’s definitely not a Sunday walk in the park. You’ll get 15-20 minutes of flat strolling to break up the first and last uphill push. The total accumulated elevation gain is almost 700 meters. So it’s not one I’d invite just any buddy to come along.

sierra del vicort pico del rayo calatayud
Here’s a better view of the base.
Winter views are sexy.

But it’s easier to picnic all the way up there in the summer months. And, let’s be honest, we I hike for the snacks.

pico del rayo sierra del vicort calatayud
Snack time. We brought beers and olives and cheese 🙂

pico del rayo sierra del vicort calatayud
Summit selfies
Come visit and come hiking with me damnit!

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